C40 Voices: Terri Wills, Director of Global Initiatives

Today 15 C40 cities are gathering in Copenhagen for the first workshop of the C40 Green Growth Network. Hosted by the City of Copenhagen, who became chair of the Network earlier this year, the event comprises three days of focused presentations on key aspects of green growth, inputs from knowledge partners, as well as dialogue and sharing of best practice among participating cities.

What is Green Growth and why is it important? Simply put, cities focused on this issue are investing in the sustainability sector; encouraging the growth of green enterprise districts or clusters; and establishing the economic rationale to undertake green policies by measuring broader environmental, health and social impacts.

The pursuit of a green growth agenda is relatively new in many cities, but it is gaining prominence – for good reason. Cities today are faced with both economic and environmental challenges. In this uncertain economy, cities need to stimulate job creation and economic growth in the private sector. At the same time, however, many cities face major environmental challenges, which are compounded by growing populations. We are therefore seeing a great interest from C40 Cities around the world to combine their ambitious environmental goals with social and economic goals in order to attain the best possible outcome; it is critical for cities that climate change strategies are also evaluated in economic terms, so that economic and environmental strategies are integrated.

The participating cities in the C40 Green Growth Network have already started these processes. While they are in different stages of economic development, common to all is a desire to connect with other cities on these issues, to share experiences and solutions, as well as to learn and be inspired by peers in other cities around the world. The event kicking off today, and the ongoing work of the C40 Green Growth Network in the year ahead, are consistent with these goals.

The general aim of the C40 Green Growth Network – as with all C40 Networks -- is to form a basis for exchanging knowledge, to foster interconnectivity and to help cities overcome barriers and seek solutions in the process of achieving greener growth. The specific focus of the Network falls into two main work streams as defined by participants. The first is helping cities make the political case and uncover the economic rationale behind green investments, by understanding the broader socioeconomic effects of sustainable city policies and solutions. The second is about how best to activate and integrate the private sector in the green growth agenda of the city. As such, the Network has the potential to impact upon a whole range of a city's policies and programs.

We look forward to productive sessions here in Copenhagen this week, and to bringing a stronger focus on the benefits of sustainable development in cities through our ongoing efforts.

To read more about the C40 Green Growth Network, click here for an earlier piece by the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen.